Tuesday, June 25, 2024

DHS Expanded Monitoring of Americans, Using Jan. 6 and the Mar-a-Lago Raid As Their Excuse

By Tim Gamble

Summary: New documents reveal the Biden administration’s allies at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) discussed using January 6 and the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago to justify further targeting and surveillance of political dissent by Americans.  

Jan. 25, 2024  – Yesterday, following its victory in disbanding the Department of Homeland Security's “Homeland Intelligence Experts Group,” America First Legal released the third batch of the group’s internal meeting notes, exclusively obtained from litigation. 

January 6 as a catalyst for expanding surveillance:

One group member noted that “prior to January 6th” (i.e., under the Trump administration), analysts thought that “it was inappropriate to collect” intelligence on Americans. Following January 6, however, they observed that there had been a change in collection and reporting methods. 

The documents indicate that under the Biden Administration, the federal government has used January 6 to justify expanding efforts to collect intelligence on what they deem “DVE” or “Domestic Violent Extremists.” As the second installment of the #DeepStateDiaries showed, DVE is the group’s term for people who are “religious,” “in the military,” or support President Trump.

The Brennan-Clapper-led group discussed “collection based on sites where they expect to see indicators,” suggesting that the federal government sought to monitor sites they viewed as “domestic extremism threats.” 

Notably, one group member asked, “When you are looking at speech online, how do you know if it is serious? Political? Hyperbole?” The Biden Administration’s historical approach, as evidenced by these documents and the Department of Justice’s sentencing of Douglass Mackey to 7 months in prison for posting memes ahead of the 2016 election, is that speech online should be considered “serious” only when it comes from conservatives. 

As another data point, later in the conversation, someone else again mentioned how “efforts to collect” intelligence have noticeably changed post-January 6.

And yet another participant noted that the “support” for the “mission set” has changed post-January 6 at the “departmental” level and has “become political.”

The committee appears to have been interested in DHS using the DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis to push the bounds on activity—traditionally thought to be off limits—and is using January 6 as the excuse to do it.

Using the raid at Mar-a-Lago as a catalyst to expand activity:

The group also discussed using the fabricated and illegal raid on President Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago – where the FBI staged photographs to manufacture incriminating evidence – to justify its expanded activities. With respect to Mar-a-Lago, one Group member said there was “reason to be concerned about a violent reaction” after the raid. 

The group also discussed whether this is “politically driven or in [their] mission space,” and one group member noted they should be aware of the “public optics” of this activity. 

In considering threats of “violence,” the group also discussed a hypothetical scenario in which “there is a shooting with 12 injured” and whether that would require a national response from DHS and if it falls into a “domestic violent extremism” category.

Just last week, 5 people were killed and 8 were wounded in Chicago, and in Washington, D.C., 4 people were shot. Yet, the Brennan-Clapper does not appear to be concerned with addressing the rampant rising crime and violence in American cities; it is only when they can attribute violence to political opposition that they label violence as domestic extremism. 

These documents, obtained exclusively by AFL through litigation against DHS, prove there is a pronounced difference between how I&A operated (collected and reported intelligence for DHS) before and after January 6. They demonstrate how the standards followed under the Trump administration to respect Constitutional rights and civil liberties are apparently no longer followed under the Biden administration. 

Source:  Press Release from America First Legal (AFL) dated January 24, 2024. 
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